By Matthew Marczi
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones’ demotion effectively occurred at the 6:56 mark in the second quarter of the team’s loss this past Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. This was the 1st and 10 run from the Raiders’ 40-yard line in which Jones lost outside contain and allowed Darren McFadden to gain 19 yards only to eventually catch up to the play and help make the tackle.
Jones was taken off the field the play after this—the second time in the game that he was pulled mid-series, and probably about the 5th or 6th time this season—replaced with Jason Worilds, who officially got the start for the game despite still being listed as co-starter entering the week.
With Worilds starting the game and Jones being removed twice, there was already plenty of evidence on hand to make the prediction that a move might be made formally later in the week to relieve Jones of his starting responsibilities. In other words, we have already established the fact of the demotion.
But what is the plan now for Jones moving forward in the immediate future?
If you ask me, I believe we already saw the answer. In fact, we saw what would happen in such a situation before the demotion even took place.
The answer is that Keith Butler will keep his word about getting his three outside linebackers on the field at the same time, something that he spoke about having the desire to do during training camp.
Three times against the Oakland Raiders, Jones came on to the field on third downs in order to be a situational pass rusher. Perhaps this was noticed by many observers, made more obvious by his distinctive hair, which easily differentiates him from his counterpart, the short-haired Worilds.
What most likely did not notice on these three plays, however, is that Worilds never came off the field. In fact, there was just one lineman on these occasions, with everybody standing up, including Worilds, who was standing up next to Cameron Heyward.
The first of these plays occurred on the Troy Polamalu interception, on which the left tackle, along with seemingly the majority of the offensive line, were not on the same page regarding the snap count. This allowed Jones to run right by the left tackle without him even coming out of his stance. Jones pressured Terrelle Pryor, who ultimately got outside of him, but pursuit prevented a scramble, and forced Pryor to make a poor decision, which resulted in the turnover.
This happened twice more throughout the game, on the Raiders’ first two drives of the second half. While Jones was unable to influence the outcome of either play, the Raiders were unable to convert first downs. Make no mistake, this is not a Mike Adams situation, in which Jones will be inactive. He will get his playing time. Perhaps it will just come primarily in a specialized role.